Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Lounge suit

I finally got around to re-covering our couch and hiding the strange yellow cover that came with it. I have never done upholstery before, so it involved a lot of guess work. I ended up with loads of left-over fabric. So I did what any self-respecting person would, and made a matching dress! Now I just need to make a matching waist coat for Mr. O and we will be a matching set!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Details: If footnotes were buttons

Left from here, right from here

We have all heard the saying: the devil is in the details. Well today I am proof-reading an article I have had accepted for publication (which is very exciting and I will write more on it soon!). It feels more like the details are the devil. I am wrangling my footnotes into in-text citations and combing over commas: it is not a lot of fun. More than that; I am completely rubbish at noticing these little mistakes, so it takes all my energy to weed them out!

I have been bribing myself with Etsy-breaks. Like a 2-year old and a lolly jar: "if I just do this page, I can have 10mins on Etsy!" The strange thing about my Etsy-wanderings, is that it is the details I relish! This navy blue number has been on my wish-list for AGES! Not because I need another navy blue dress, but because I just adore that little polka-dot peek-a-boo underskirt that you can only just catch in the third image. I can just imagine the thrilling flash of that contrast underskirt on a swing-out!

A sneaky pocket; the perfect pleat; a touch of embroidery; clever cut-outs; collars; bows and beautiful buttons - all details that capture me and mean my Etsy favourites-list is ever expanding. In clothing, those little details seem to lift a simple dress into something special. And yet when it comes to my writing, I just can't find that same enthusiasm.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Dionysus and debauchery at the Artists' Ball

Remember this dress? Of course you do! In blog time, it is just a moment ago! Well I remade it and wore it again recently to the Artists' Ball.

The Artists' Ball was an annual event put on by the Artists' Society in New South Wales from the 1880s. In 1898 they became fancy dress balls and sounds like pretty spectacular affairs. I just love the accounts of the weird and wacky costumes people wore. Like Dulcie Deamer in 1923, Miss M Dawson 1927, and the 'Freak Hats' of 1928. There is a great entry about it on the Dictionary of Sydney here, with details of the particularly scandalous ball of 1924.

This year's ball was put on by the History Council of New South Wales, recreating a little piece of the past to open History Week. I love the idea of recreating history in this way. It was held in the David Jones Ballroom, which has soaring ceilings and views over Hyde Park. It was pretty magical. 

I put together a Mucha-inspired Dionysus costume, trying to embody the work of that great art-noveau artist. The dress itself is much more 1950s prom frou-frou style, but there just wasn't time to whip up a more period appropriate dress! In any case, it was a wonderful night escaping back into the sights and sounds of 1933.

Dancing some charleston with Tessa

Tim and Jesse - as wood nymphs

Sarah and her poison apple
(images above are from here - where there are many more great shots from the night)

      Ben as Flash Gordon                                                                   Alice as the Solar System                      

 The Balloon drop!!!

Dionysian hair and make-up.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

When I grow up I want to be a...

I am in the final stretch of my PhD journey. I am not entirely sure how long the stretch will go for, but lets all hope it is sooner rather than later. Getting down to my writing and really immersing myself in my work has made me want to write more about it. I have fallen out of the practice of blogging, partly because instagram is a quick and easy way to document my aesthetic interests, and partly because I found the writing part of blogging a bit boring. I never really felt like I had much to say except: Here! Look! Pictures!

Now I do feel like I have things to say, and ideas to think through. I also have bits and pieces of writing hidden away in notebooks that I might post up. And who knows? Maybe even some pretty pictures?

I attended the wonderful 2-day symposium on Presenting the Past this week as part of NSW History Week. I really enjoyed hearing more about how to bring history to broader audiences.

I left with butterflies in my tummy. Partly because the speakers were great and inspiring. But partly because it made me realize just how many different ways I could use this PhD when I finish. I often wonder what I want to be when I ‘grow up’. I would love to work in museums, in education, in academia, archives, libraries. After coming back from my fellowship at the V&A, I have felt fairly certain that museums are in my future. But the symposium made me realize there are lots of other exciting ways to bring research to broader audiences: Public history writing and presenting, documentaries on TV or radio, historical fiction and of course social media.

It’s pretty exciting stuff, but also completely daunting and competitive. I almost wish someone would come along, assess my skill set and point me off in the best direction. So I am all ears! When I grow up I want to be a.... ?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dance dress! Dance!

Something has happened over the last few months. Where I used to look at a dress and think: Oooh pretty! And occasionally follow up with some sensible questions like: Will it feel nice to wear? Will it wash/ iron? And do I have the undergarments/accesories necessary to pull it off?

I now think: Will it dance?

I have recently joined the Harbour City Hoppers - a swing dance troupe - and find myself dancing more  and more. This means needing to be suitably attired for dancing, and thinking much more about how clothes move. Ladies, big circle skirts are such fun to spin in - but require bloomers or petticoats (particularly when dancing in public!!) Big skirts are also heavy! And hide the fancy shapes those legs make! The synthetic fabric that requires so little care, sweats like hell on the dance floor! The discoveries go on and on...

This has lead me to sew more, and think about making garments that allow movement, while still creating the silhouette I love. Would you guys be interested in reading more about my sewing adventures?

The photos are some snaps from last year (from here and here!) at the Melbourne Lindy Exchange.